Burger posts five-hit night for Intimidators

White Sox first-round pick tallies three extra-base hits, two RBIs

Jake Burger's five-hit night lifted his average to .405 through 11 games in the South Atlantic League. (Kannapolis Intimidators)

By Tyler Maun / MiLB.com | July 21, 2017 12:49 AM

If Jake Burger makes a habit of hitting like he did Thursday night, he may want to start clearing some space for a new roommate.

With his father in attendance, the 2017 White Sox first-rounder went 5-for-5 with a triple, two doubles and two RBIs as the Class A Kannapolis Intimidators fell to the West Virginia Power, 6-5. Five hits marked a personal best in his brief career.

"He was loving it," Burger said of his dad, Mike. "He was texting my mom and sister pitch-by-pitch updates. He was like, 'Jake, I had no idea. This is awesome. I'm not leaving. I'm staying here for the rest of the season.' So we're going to try to get as many 5-for-5 games as we possibly can."


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The elder Burger didn't have to wait long to watch his son make an impact. Kannapolis' third baseman beat out an RBI single to second base in the bottom of the first inning and followed with a double to center two innings later.

"The first at-bat, they got me down two strikes," Burger said. "I fought off some tough sliders and [West Virginia starter Eduardo Vera] finally threw a fastball. I hit it through the right side. I was like, 'All right, I just hit a fastball, so they'll probably stay off-speed for most of the night.' That's kind of what they did."

Following a leadoff infield single to second by newly acquired No. 6 White Sox prospect Blake Rutherford, Burger roped another double to center in the fifth, then tripled on a liner to left in the seventh. The Missouri State product finished his night with an RBI single to right in the bottom of the ninth, a hit that came with added significance.

"I've never had a 5-for-5 game in my life, so that's one for the record books," Burger said. "I actually hit the last ball, and it was a slider on the outside part of the plate. I hit it to right field and hit it off the end a little bit. It broke the bat, so it died a hero.

"I might have to hang that up and remember it forever," he added with a laugh.

Since being selected by the White Sox with the 11th overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft in June, Burger has played in 15 professional games, joining the Intimidators following a quick four-game introduction to pro ball in the Rookie-level Arizona League. He boosted his professional slash line to .340/.450/.620. With Kannapolis, Burger is batting .405/.488/.676 in 11 contests.

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"I like it," he said. "You set your own schedule. With college ball, you have weights at a certain time, you have class at a certain time, so it's not really up to you. Here in pro ball, you can get to the field before report time and get your extra work in, get your lift in. You set that all on your own. It's been fun acclimating to it.

"I would say the competition level is pretty close to college. I think it's really similar in the sense that you have guys that are flamethrowers and have no idea where it's going, but you also have guys that know how to pitch. It's kind of a mixture of both, and that's how college ball was too. I think the three years of college helped me adjust a little easier."

Burger has gotten a chance to hit the field in Kannapolis with fellow 2017 draftees Gavin Sheets (second round) and Luis Gonzalez (third), and Rutherford came over from the Yankees in this week's trade that sent big leaguers Todd Frazier, Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson to New York. The White Sox have 10 players in the first 68 on MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects list. Rutherford stands at No. 30.

"We have the best farm system in baseball," Burger said. "It's awesome. Every team, you get to play with big-time prospects and big-time players. It's been a fun ride. Blake's a great guy. It was fun hitting behind him. We actually have lockers right next to each other, so I've gotten to know him. It's been fun. I grew up a White Sox fan, so I'm probably more stoked than I probably should be, but it's been awesome."


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Yes, the St. Louis native grew up a fan of the South Siders, which has made the start of his career something of a dream come true.

"I grew up a Paul Konerko guy," he said. "I tried to model my swing off of him and my approach at the plate, so it was kind of easy to root for the White Sox back in the day. Some of my dad's family lives up in Chicago, and I was always up there. I get a lot of flak from some St. Louis people, but as long as I'm not a North Side fan, they're OK with it."

And as for his dad, the fun wasn't over after the game went final.

"It's the first time he got to come out and see [me in pro ball]," Burger said. "He was like, 'You know what, Jake? You owe yourself dinner.' So we're going to go out and celebrate it and then be back at it tomorrow."

Tyler Maun is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @TylerMaun. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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